Studies are divided into a coursework stage and a research stage

Coursework stage
The coursework stage consists of basic courses, specialisation courses and integration courses. Basic courses provide a systematic introduction to a subject. Specialisation courses deal with special research-based issues. Integration courses convey central elements of the St.Gallen management theory. They are intended for students who did not pursue any economic science subjects in their previous studies.

Research proposal
The transition from the coursework stage to the research stage is effected through your submission of a research proposal. A colloquium with your thesis committee will decide whether you can move on to the research stage.

Research stage
At the research stage, you will write your thesis and continue to pursue your education autonomously in cooperation with your supervisor, take part in congresses or even publish initial parts of your thesis. Thesis-related colloquia are intended to advance your interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary competencies with the help of your own thesis project in discussion with your fellow students and with faculty members.

At the four-semester coursework stage, you will attend a total of four courses. Added to this, there are the integration courses.

We distinguish between basic courses, specialist courses and integration courses. You can select specialist courses and basic courses according to your requirements. The two integration courses are compulsory if you do not hold an equivalent degree (HSG degree).

  • Basic courses demonstrate the development of a research area in social, cultural and organizational sciences with the help of examples. These courses also serve to introduce doctoral students to interdisciplinary research contexts: as a cultural scientist, you will become acquainted with the social sciences’ approach to reality; as an economist, you will learn how to interpret a symbolic aspect. The courses are consecutive and last two semesters.
  • Specialist courses present for discussion areas that are currently being researched by the Chairs and researchers involved in the DOK. Unless you write your thesis within a specialist research area yourself, these courses will provide you with an opportunity to advance your interdisciplinary education.
  • Integration courses familiarise you with core components of the HSG management knowledge. It is not only if you work in the private or public sector that you will increasingly be confronted with issues of management and financial organization; this will also happen if you opt for an academic career. The integration courses will provide you with the requisite know-how.

After successful submission of a research proposal, the coursework stage is followed by the thesis stage, which is devoted to writing a thesis and acquiring specialist knowledge.

The research stage is devoted to the production of your thesis. The DOK programme deliberately refrains from offering any seminars during the research stage. However, students have to attend two colloquia in which they discuss their own and their fellow students’ theses in the presence of DOK faculty members.

Thesis format
The DOK programme attaches importance to the investigation of wider contexts. The preferred thesis format is therefore the monograph. Within a defined scope, however, cumulative theses are also an option. Please consult the fact sheet on cumulative theses in the DOK.

Looking beyond the HSG
At this stage, we also recommend that you attend congresses and colloquia at other universities and research institutions with regard to your own research.

Optionally, you can use attendance at a congress with a presentation, or attendance at a specific course/seminar of another graduate college, a summer school or another PhD programme as a substitute for a course or a colloquium.

This page provides you with information about the organization of courses and colloquia

Course subjects

The subject matter of current courses can be found in the HSG’s course directory. Publicly accessible fact sheets list detailed programmes. You can browse through several semesters to obtain the relevant information.

Organization of courses and colloquia

Courses are not run on a weekly basis but concentrated in several blocks, and colloquia usually even take place in one single block with individual preparation. Attendance at several courses per semester is discouraged: the rule is to attend one course per semester.

Course and colloquium data

Course descriptions, data and rooms can be found in the course directory of the University of St.Gallen.


As a rule, courses and colloquia at the PhD level only have a few participants to ensure that these are able to conduct lively discussions. Once you have enrolled in a course, only exceptional circumstances will exempt you from regular attendance and from satisfying the qualification criteria.